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Lower Silesian, Silesian German
Schläsche Sproache
Native toGermany, Poland, Czech Republic
RegionSilesia; also spoken in Czech Republic and German Silesia (area that was part of Prussian Province of Silesia, more or less around Hoyerswerda, now in Saxony)
Native speakers
(undated figure of 12,000 in Poland)[1]
11,000 in the Czech Republic (2001 census)
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3sli
ELPLower Silesian

Silesian (Silesian: Schläsisch, Schläs’sch, Schlä’sch, Schläsch, German: Schlesisch), Silesian German or Lower Silesian is a nearly extinct German dialect spoken in Silesia. It is part of the East Central German language area with some West Slavic and Lechitic influences. Silesian German emerged as the result of Late Medieval German migration to Silesia,[2] which had been inhabited by Lechitic or West Slavic peoples in the Early Middle Ages.

Until 1945, variations of the dialect were spoken by about seven million people in Silesia and neighboring regions of Bohemia and Moravia.[3] After World War II, when the province of Silesia was incorporated into Poland, with small portions remaining in northeastern Czech Republic and in former central Germany, which henceforth became eastern Germany, the local communist authorities expelled the German-speaking population and forbade the use of the language.

Silesian German continued to be spoken only by individual families, only few of them remaining in their home region, but most of them expelled to the remaining territory of Germany. Most descendants of the Silesian Germans expelled to West and East Germany no longer learned the dialect, and the cultural gatherings were less and less frequented.

A remaining German minority in Opole Voivodeship continues use of German in Upper Silesia, but only the older generation speaks the Upper Silesian dialect of Silesian German in today's Poland.


Historical area of distribution of Silesian German

In origin, Silesian German appears to derive from 12th-century dialects of Middle High German, including medieval forms of Upper Saxon German, East Franconian German and Thuringian. The German-speaking inhabitants of Silesia are thought to be descendants of settlers from Upper Lusatia, Saxony, Thuringia and Franconia who first arrived in Silesia (back then part of Piast Poland) in the 13th century.[2]

By migration over the Sudetes, the language spread to neighboring regions of Bohemia. In the 13th century, German-speaking settlers from Silesia arrived at the region around Trautenau (Trutnov), and the region around Freiwaldau (Jeseník), often founding settlements in previously uninhabited mountainous areas.[4]

After World War II, local communist authorities forbade the use of the language. After the forcible expulsion of the Germans from Silesia, German Silesian culture and language nearly died out when most of Silesia became part of Poland in 1945. Polish authorities banned the use of the German language. There are still unresolved feelings on the sides of both Poles and Germans, largely because of Nazi Germany's war crimes on Poles and the forced expulsion and ethnic cleansing of native Germans from former German territories that were transferred to Poland in the wake of the Potsdam Agreement.

The German Silesian dialect is not recognized by the Polish State in any way, although the status of the German minority in Poland has improved much since the 1991 communist collapse and Polish entry into the European Union.

Silesian can be grouped like this:[5]

A rough division can be made into: Nord- oder Reichsschlesisch and Süd- oder Sudetenschlesisch (influenced by Central Bavarian).[6]

Silesian German was the language in which the poetry of Karl von Holtei and Gerhart Hauptmann was written, during the 19th century.[citation needed]


Personal pronoun


1st Person Singular 2nd Person Singular 3rd Person Singular
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative ć͜h [NL, minimal-emphasised], ić͜h, eć͜h [Südglatz] ić͜h, īć͜h, aić͜h [NL], ẹ̄ć͜h [NL, south-eastern], ić͜hə [most-emphasised, rarer inside of sentences and more commonly standing alone; LS] d [before voiced sounds], də du, dū, dūe [most-emphasised, rarer inside of sentences and more commonly standing alone] a, ar hā, hār, ār, ę̄r ſə [ſ̌ə after r; sə after voiceless p, t, k, s, f, ch] ſī [GS, LS], ſẹ̄, ſai [both NL], ſīə, ſīne [denoting female animals, prolonged forms] s [becomes š after r], əs
Genitive [ maint, mainst, mẹ̄nt, mẹ̄nst, menərt ] [ daint-, denərt ] ər, er īr, ẹ̄r, air s
Dative mr̥, mer mīr [GS, LS], mẹ̄r, mę̄r, mair [all three NL] dr̥, der dīr [GS, LS], dẹ̄r, dę̄r, dair [all three NL] m̥, n̥ īm, ẹ̄m [NL, also], aim [NL, more common], īn [LS, northern], ain [NL, northern] ər, er īr [GS, LS], ẹ̄r, air [both NL] m̥, n̥ [northern]
Accusative məć͜h, mić͜h, meć͜h, mīć͜h mić͜h, mīć͜h, maić͜h, mẹ̄ć͜h ć͜h, dəć͜h, deć͜h, dić͜h, dīć͜h dīć͜h, daić͜h, dẹ̄ć͜h n̥ [NL, LS], a [GS] īn [LS, GS], ẹ̄n [NL, also; Südglätzisch], ain [NL, more common] = Nom. = Nom.
1st Person Plural 2rd Person Plural 3rd Person Plural
Nominative mr̥, mer [both GS, LS near to GS], br̥, ber [both LS near to NL, NL] mīr [GS, LS near to GS], bīr [LS near to NL], bẹ̄r [NL, mostly], bair [NL, rarer (Festenberg, Trachenberg)] r̥, er īr [GS, LS], ẹ̄r [NL, mostly], air [NL, rarer] ſə ſī, ſẹ̄, ſai
Genitive inser, ọnſər, ọ̄inſr̥ oi-ər, aiər ər īr, īər, air
Dative s, es [both Glätzisch], [ſes], ins, ọns, ọ̄ins [both Glätzisch] ins, ons ć͜h [NL], ić͜h [Glätzisch], oić͜h, aić͜h oić͜h, aić͜h [Glätzisch] n̥, a īn
Accusative = Dat. = Dat. = Nom.


See also


  1. ^ Silesian at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009) Closed access icon
  2. ^ a b Weinhold, Karl (1887). Die Verbreitung und die Herkunft der Deutschen in Schlesien [The Spread and the Origin of Germans in Silesia] (in German). Stuttgart: J. Engelhorn.
  3. ^ Klaus Ullmann: Schlesien-Lexikon, 2. Band der Reihe Deutsche Landschaften im Lexikon, 3. Auflage 1982, Adam Kraft Verlag GmbH & Co. KG Mannheim, pp. 260–262.
  4. ^ Charles Higounet. Die deutsche Ostsiedlung im Mittelalter (in German). pp. 166–167.
  5. ^ Wolfgang Putschke:
      • Ostmitteldeutsch. In: Lexikon der Germanistischen Linguistik. Herausgegeben von Hans Peter Althaus, Helmut Henne, Herbert Ernst Wiegand. 2nd ed., Max Niemeyer Verlag Tübingen, 1980 (1st ed. 1973), here p. 474–477
      • Ostmitteldeutsche Dialektologie. In: Ludwig Erich Schmitt (ed.): Germanische Dialektologie. Festschrift für Walther Mitzka zum 80. Geburtstag. I. (Zeitschrift für Mundartforschung. Beihefte, Neue Folge 5.) Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH, Wiesbaden 1968, p. 105–154, here p. 132 and 143 [uses the terms ostmitteldeutscher Dialektraum on the 1st level, then on the 2nd level (adjective ending in -er) Dialektverband and on the 3rd (adjective ending in -e) Dialektgruppe]
  6. ^ Sprachgeschichte: Ein Handbuch zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und ihrer Erforschung. Herausgegeben von Werner Besch, Anne Betten, Oskar Reichmann, Stefan Sonderegger. 3. Teilband. 2nd ed. Volume 2.3 of Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft (Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science / Manuels de linguistique et des sciences de communication) (HSK). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York, 2003, p. 2748
  7. ^ Das Pronomen in der schlesischen Mundart (I. Teil, I. Kapitel) – Inaugural-Dissertation von Theodor Schönborn. Breslau, Verlag von M. & H. Marcus, 1910